Iowa State vs Kansas football: Five Jayhawks to watch


Yes, Kansas is really bad. They rank 97th nationally in total defense and 114th nationally in total offense, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a handful of really good players. Obviously, there’s the heralded linebacker, but there’s some players that both Iowa State players and fans should keep an eye on.

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LB Ben Heeney (#31, 6-0, 230 lbs., Sr)

Coming into the season, Heeney was regarded as the best player on both sides of the football for Kansas. Well, he’s lived up to the hype, and that statement is incredibly true. Heeney has 94 total tackles eight games into the season, 45 more than Isaiah Johnson, who has the second-most tackles.

Heeney has also recorded 10 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and has both a pick and fumble recovery. The dominant linebacker is going to get his licks, and Iowa State has to find a way to overcome it.

QB Michael Cummings (#14, 5-10, 210 lbs., Jr)

When Charlie Weis got the axe, so did quarterback Montell Cozart. Cummings has actually played in all eight games but started in the last three, and he’s been such an improvement under center. He’s completed nearly 60 percent of his passes and has a ratio of four touchdowns to two interceptions.

Cummings is lot more efficient and doesn’t make as many mistakes as Cozart. He has either ran or has been forced to scramble 37 times, and he has a net yardage of zero (87 gained, 87 lost).

Oct 11, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks wide receiver Nick Harwell (8) celebrates after catching a pass for a first down against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

WR Nick Harwell (#8, 6-1, 193 lbs., Sr)

Now that he has a good quarterback throwing the ball to him, Harwell has had his best games since FCS opponent Southeast Missouri State. The team’s leading receiver has reeled in 215 yards and two touchdowns on 15 catches in the last three games. In the passing game, he’ll be the team’s biggest threat, but the Cyclones defense can’t overlook the tall, productive receivers in tight end Jimmay Mundine and 6-foot-3 wide receiver Nigel King.

RB Corey Avery (#6, 5-10, 195 lbs., Fr)

Because Iowa State’s defense gave up over 500 yards on the ground in one game, Avery has an opportunity to really shine. He’s only been held under double-digit carries once against Texas and had his worst outing against Baylor last week (11 carries, 18 yards).

LB/DE Michael Reynolds (#55, 6-1, 240 lbs., Sr)

Reynolds plays in the buck slot, which is a hybrid of defensive end and linebacker. He has an impact in destroying backfields. Heeney is dominant, but Reynolds leads the team in tackles for loss (11.5), sacks (5), quarterback hits (4), and forced fumbles (4). Sam B. Richardson and the running attack must watch out for him along with Heeney.